Should projects look beyond the end goal and be part of a wider retainer?

Should projects look beyond the end goal and be part of a wider retainer?

A strategic PR and communication plan is an integral component for any business or organisation wanting to address a particular business goal or preparing to start a major project. Ahead of briefing a roster of PR agencies to help with creating a PR plan, it’s important to identify what problem you are trying to solve and if the solution requires a project based approach a retained fee?

The services PR agencies offer for retained clients versus projects are very similar for the most part. Obviously the goals, objectives and the scope of work will dictate what is required, but for the most part they are speaking the same language. Where things start to really differentiate is when the conversation moves to timings and budget. Projects work to a set deadline (that often feels like a countdown) and a fixed budget, while retainers are ongoing with the budget set every month which also comes with the opportunity to adjust the scope of work to accommodate for overflow work from a new project or other ad hoc activity.

It seems almost standard to keep projects and retainers very separate, but as the industry continues to move further into an integrated offering, it makes more sense to bring both together and look at what the overarching goal is. This question needs to be upfront and answered during the conceptual stage of the project and should flow into the briefing process for the benefit of the business but also the PR, marketing, creative or advertising agencies being offered the opportunity to pitch.

Before committing to a project and briefing an agency, the following questions need to be asked:

What is the problem we are trying to solve?

This question is often asked too late. All projects have their own set of goals and objectives judging whether it is a success. The overarching goal for a project usually feeds directly into the primary business goals of an organisation – this is the problem you are trying to solve.

What happens once the project is completed?

Too often projects are seen as huge, massive, shiny bodies of work that are very exciting with a large number of people eager to pitch in to contribute, but what happens once the project wraps up? During the planning phase it is important to have a clear view of what the next steps are once the project has concluded. By having an agency on retainer you have the ability to achieve a greater outcome for your project as they will have a wider understanding of your business; plus you have the advantage of planning suitable activity in the months following that fit within your annual budget.

Are you thinking with only the project budget in mind?

The budget is one of the key-determining factors that will help guide the decision making process for most projects, but this can also hinder achieving the project goals and objectives. It’s worth investigating what budget and resources can be accessed through the wider marketing team and applied to a project. The success of a project is a success for the business; collaboration is more than just working together it can also mean sharing from the same purse.

When appointing an agency it is important to look at the bigger picture and ask the question – are we able to appoint an agency on a retainer and include this project as part of the scope of work?

What is an alternative option?

There is one other option business and organisations should consider and that is investing in a succumbent agreement. Usually succumbents for PR practitioners occur within the mining and resources sector, but this option should be considered by every organisation completing a project with a lengthy timeline or businesses whose influx of work is seasonal.

The benefits of appointing an agency and having one of their consultants embedded within your own team are greater than just having an extra body on the ground. Apart from having an experienced practitioner within arms reach, you also get access to an agency who can provide you with insights, intelligence and creative thinking without having to source additional resources or approach additional suppliers unnecessarily 

For any business or organisation getting ready to embark on a project, it is worth taking the time to meet with an agency such as Elevate and discussing your project as well as the wider goals of the business. Call us on 07 3180 3666 to book in a meeting with one of our experienced team members today. 


About the Author - Mark Smith

Mark is a consummate PR professional with a strong knowledge of the Australian media landscape and an equally strong list of media contacts.

For more than seven years Mark has ...

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